After a week off, Purdue traveled to Iowa to begin the B1G schedule. Iowa's transition-based offense had been in rhythm the last three games, all wins, as Iowa scored 82 points twice and 105 once...and early on, the pace favored Iowa.
With the collapses of the Butler and Xavier losses in the front of his mind, Painter clearly was trying to keep Hummel and Jackson as fresh as possible for the closing minutes. Purdue's lead stayed around 6-8 points for much of the first half. But in the second half, the game got tighter as Iowa tied it twice and kept it within 5 points for most of the last 20 minutes. But, the Hawkeyes couldn't get over the hump. When they punched, Purdue had an answer...and much of the time, the answer came from unusual places like Byrd, Barlow or Lawson...but in the end, Hummel closed out the Hawkeyes with a few key rebounds and hitting his last four free throws; something Purdue has struggled with all season.
In the first half, Purdue had 30 points off the bench. Most-notably, DJ Byrd and John Hart both had 8 points...and looked as if they completely expected such a performance. Hart finished with an efficient 8 points in just 11 minutes...and looked very good shooting the three. Byrd scratched and clawed his way to 14 points, 2 assists and a steal in 22 minutes. Perhaps he's finally healthy...or maybe it was just a good night. Regardless, it was not only great to see, but absolutely needed.
Tim Doyle was on color for this game...so I watched large chunks of it on mute. But honestly, I was just happy that BTN was able to broadcast video alllllllll the way from Iowa. That's good of them.
The most interesting point in the game by far was following an assist from AJ to Hummel, Rob looked like he wanted to punch AJ in the face...so did Matty on the timeout...and Coach Shrewsberry didn't look too happy with the RS Frosh either. I went back and watched the play and deduced that AJ missed a screen and wasn't moving on offense and tried to say it was Hummel's fault as they walked off the court...I guess. Whatever it is, it's something to watch. I don't think I've ever seen something like that on a Painter team.
In the closing minutes, it had the feel of the Butler game- Iowa looked fresh, motivated and quick, Purdue looked sluggish as if they were just gutting the game out. And when Iowa's Gatens hit a three that made it a three point game with :49 seconds left, I had that not-so-confident feeling. I'm positive that crept into the minds of the squad as well.
But as they had for much of the night, Purdue answered. This time it was Barlow who finished close to the basket. He finished with a quiet 12 points, 2 rebounds and a steal...but played smart and tough for much of the game. LewJack seemed to end most possessions on the floor. He struggled to stay in control at times and was clearly wincing at times. He finished with 6 points and 4 assists; but turned it over 3 times.
Lawson started again as Marcius stayed home with the calf injury. He finished with just four points, but had 5 rebounds...and as usual, foul concerns kept him out of the game- he only played 14 minutes. Carroll played a quiet 17 minutes and looked more resolute at times, but had 0 rebounds. Ryne Smith struggled from behind the arc, going 1-5. He finished with 5 points and 5 rebounds. TJohn continued his frosty free throw shooting going 0-2. I don't think it's going to change this season, but he must make free throws as he seems to be at his best in traffic...and that game will draw fouls.
Iowa is not a great team...but they're well coached; a lot like Butler. Unlike the somewhat-friendly crowd at Conseco, there were no Purdue fans at this one and Purdue held on to a much-needed road win. Purdue's ability to get good looks and drive made the difference in this one. It's clear that the FT woes are here to stay, sadly. I think the immense amount of points that our Boilers are leaving on the floor will mount up and sting badly as Hightower and Co. get into midseason form while the Boilers travel.
Next up, the Forces of Good return home for a New Year's Eve Celebration v. Illinois. The party will be televised on EsPN2 at 4:00. Everyone in attendance is invited to Burke's office for punch and to watch the ball drop.